England head coach Wayne Bennett has named two debutants in his side to face New Zealand on Saturday night in Denver – with St Helens winger Tommy Makinson and Jake Connor included: though there is no place for Luke Thompson.
The squad includes twelve players who lost out to Australia in the World Cup Final last December whilst captain Sean O’Loughlin, Mark Percival and Stefan Ratchford were also part of the World Cup squad. Wigan half-back George Williams, as revealed earlier this week, has been ruled out due to a knee injury.
Makinson’s inclusion, alongside fellow wingers Jermaine McGillvary and Ryan Hall, would also appear to suggest he may yet play centre – given how St Helens team-mate Percival is the only recognised centre in the 17-man squad.
St George-Illawarra Dragons prop James Graham will make his 40th England appearance almost 10 years to the day since his first England appearance against France in June 2008. Of the current squad, James Roby and Sam Burgess also played in that game. Graham also has five caps for Great Britain.
England 17-man squad for Test against New Zealand: Bateman, S Burgess, T Burgess, Connor, Graham, Hall, Hill, Lomax, Makinson, McGillvary, O’Loughlin, Percival, Ratchford, Roby, Taylor, Whitehead, Widdop.